The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the 2019 season much as they did the 2018 season, by allowing their playoff fate slip out of their grasp. Slow starts and slow finishes permeated both campaigns, with strong runs in between. But while the results were the same missing the playoffs, the means were quite different.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we. But that they still managed to go 8-8 without Ben Roethlisberger, and with the general quality of play that they faced along the way, I suppose things could have been worse.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2018 season.
Player: Marcus Allen
Experience: 1 Year
Though he was drafted in 2018, former fifth-round pick Marcus Allen, out of Penn State, only has one accrued season. While he spent the entirety of his rookie year on the 53-man roster, mostly as a healthy scratch, he reverted to the practice squad for most of the 2019 season, only called up late in the year following the arrest and subsequent release of the team’s number three safety, Kameron Kelly.
What exactly does that mean for Allen going forward? He doesn’t have much upward mobility in front of him with Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds locking down the starting jobs for likely at least the next three years—no fewer than two—but could he be a viable option to serve as the third safety?
In actuality, he did serve as the third safety in one game during his rookie season, playing as the dime defender against the Los Angeles Chargers in a game that both Morgan Burnett and Cameron Sutton missed. He had an uneven performance in what is still by far his most significant defensive playing time.
The Steelers drafted Allen in 2018 because they were very high on him and his potential and were surprised that he was still available in the fifth round—they had no fourth-round pick. That offseason, they had already drafted Edmunds in the first round and signed Burnett and Nat Berhe in free agency, while retaining Sean Davis and Jordan Dangerfield.
All six safeties made the 53-man roster, yet in 2019, they only carried four at a time, with Burnett and Berhe gone. Davis was replaced by Fitzpatrick once the former was injured, Kelly emerging as the number three safety, and Dangerfield a core special teams player. With six cornerbacks on the roster, Allen was relegated to the practice squad.
But after he was called up late in the year, Allen talked about how Mike Tomlin had praised him for keeping his focus and showing improvement over the course of the year. Tomlin singled him out last offseason as a potential candidate for a bigger role. Maybe that role will finally come in 2020. Or, he may not even make the team again.